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S. Korea seeks to expand flights on non-Japan routes

South Korea's transport ministry said Wednesday it is seeking to increase the number of flights on non-Japanese routes as part of efforts to help airlines suffering lower travel demand to Japan.

The government is in talks with the aviation authorities in Singapore, Indonesia and Brunei to supply more flights to the countries, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport said in a statement. 

It plans to extend the talks with the aviation authorities in Central Asia next year in order to offer flights to the region, it said. 


"Local airlines had been heavily reliant on the Japanese routes until July when travel demand to Japan began to decline due to Japan's export curbs," a ministry official said. "Airlines plan to diversify their routes by reducing their heavy dependence on the Japanese routes."

In the first half of 2019, the country's eight airlines earned 25 percent of their overall sales from the operation of Japanese routes, the statement said.

The eight airlines are two full-service carriers -- Korean Air and Asiana Airlines Inc. -- and six low-cost carriers -- Jeju Air, Jin Air, Air Busan Co., Air Seoul Inc., Eastar Jet and T'way Air Co. Fly Gangwon began operations in November after obtaining permission from the ministry last month.

The country's passenger traffic has continued to rise in the past five years, jumping to 118 million in 2018 from 81 million in 2014, it said. (Yonhap)